Bulldogs, Vikings Clash In Friday Semifinal

Bulldogs, Vikings Clash In Friday Semifinal

2010-11 Butler Women's Basketball

Horizon League Championship Semifinal
#2 Butler (19-12) vs. #3 Cleveland State (20-10)
Friday, March 11 - 6:30 p.m. ET
Green Bay, Wis. - Kress Center
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Butler, CSU Meet In League Semifinal

A rematch of the 2010 Horizon League title game will pit Butler vs. Cleveland State in the league semifinal round Friday, March 11 at Green Bay. The two teams split in the regular season and each squad finished 12-6 in league play. The BU-CSU bout will be the early semifinal, with Green Bay and Wright State following at 9 p.m. ET.


The Starting 5 - Butler's Top Storylines

1. Tourney Time: Butler, the Horizon League's No. 2 seed, routed Detroit Wednesday night to reach the tournament semifinal vs. Cleveland State. The Bulldogs enter Friday's game 9-6 all-time as the tourney's No. 2 seed, including a 2-1 mark when BU reached the title game. Beth Couture is 8-8 in Horizon League tourney games, including 3-2 as the No. 2 seed.

2. Postseason Again: By finishing second in the regular season, Butler has clinched a berth into postseason play for the third consecutive year. The league's best team that doesn't make the NCAA Tournament gets an automatic bid into the WNIT. The Bulldogs have played in the WNIT the past two years, advancing to the second round in 2009. 

3. League Honors: Three Bulldogs - all seniors - brought home league awards for their play this season. Brittany Bowen and Chloe Hamilton were selected second team All-Horizon League this season, and Alyssa Pittman was voted as the Horizon League Sixth Player of the Year. Bowen, who was a preseason all-league pick the last two years, leads BU with 15.5 points per game. Hamilton scores 14.2 points and grabs a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game. Pittman, who came off the bench 23 times during the regular season, averages 11.8 points per game. 

4. Chloe 7th In The Nation: Chloe Hamilton enters this weekend's tournament play play ranked seventh in the country in field goal shooting at .592. The 5-10 senior is one of only seven Division I players shooting .590 or better. Hamilton's field goal percentage also leads the Horizon League and her .602 mark in league-only games is also first in the conference.  

5. 80+ Wins For 2011 Class: Butler's group of five seniors (Alyssa Pittman was a transfer) has been one of the most successful classes in school history. Azjah Bass, Brittany Bowen, Terra Burns, Chloe Hamilton and Pittman enter Saturday's game with 82 wins, the fourth most victories in school history. This year's senior class has won more games than any of Beth Couture's previous senior groups, and the 2011 Bulldogs can still reach third in school history (84 wins, 1998).


Butler-CSU Series: Butler leads the all-time series with Cleveland State 23-13. The Bulldogs and Vikings have split the last four meetings, including last year's league title game. Beth Couture is 14-7 against the Vikings in her career.

...This Year vs. CSU: Friday's game between Butler and CSU should be competitive. The two squads split this season's two meetings, with the home team winning each time. Also, each team finished 12-6 in league play, with CSU winning seven straight entering this weekend. BU beat the Vikings at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 73-65, back on Jan. 13. The Vikings answered with a 69-64 win on Feb. 12 in Cleveland.

2010 Rematch: Butler and Cleveland State will be returning to Green Bay this year, and BU will be looking for revenge. After upsetting Green Bay in last year's semifinal, the No. 4 seed Vikings got the best of Butler, 66-57, in last year's league title game. CSU led 43-28 with 13:11 remaining but BU answered to pull within 61-57 and had the ball. Butler couldn't knock down the big shot and Cleveland State went on to win. Alyssa Pittman led Butler with 18 points in the loss.

Tourney vs. CSU: The Bulldogs are 1-2 all-time vs. Cleveland State in conference tourney play. BU scored a 69-59 win at CSU in 2004, one of Beth Couture's signature wins at Butler. The Vikings beat Butler in 2008 and also in last year's title game. This is the second all-time tournament meeting on a neutral floor.

More On The 2011 Class: This year's senior class enters Friday's game with 82 wins. This senior class is 82-44 over the last four years, and 42-22 since Alyssa Pittman became eligible after transferring to Butler.

BU vs. Ohio: Since 2007, Butler has posted a 24-12 mark against opponents from Ohio. That includes a 5-5 mark against Cleveland State, and a 20-8 record against Horizon League foes from Ohio. 

Getting Defensive: Butler has posted its two best defensive efforts of the season in the team's last two games. At Valparaiso last Saturday, BU held Valpo to 47 points and .264 shooting. Butler improved on that Wednesday vs. Detroit, holding the Titans to 38 points and .245 shooting. Each of those totals were season lows.

Bowen Scores 1400: Brittany Bowen's 13 points vs. Detroit brought her to 1,400 for her Butler career. Bowen, who is sixth on BU's all-time scoring list, is one of six players to score 1,400 points at Butler. Bowen and Alyssa Pittman (1,361 points) make Butler one of just two Horizon League schools with two active 1,300-point scorers. Green Bay is the other.

...31 Came At Cleveland State: In the last meeting between these teams, Brittany Bowen scored a career-high 31 points on 9-for-19 shooting. The 5-10 senior, who grabbed 11 rebounds in the game, sank four 3-pointers. She also converted 9 of 10 at the free throw line.

More On Bowen Scoring: Brittany Bowen, the team's leading scorer with 15.4 points a game, ranks sixth in the league in scoring. In addition to having a pair of 30-point games, the 5-10 senior has 25 outings with 12 points or more this season. She has also scored 19 points or more eight times. Prior to this season, she posted two 25-point performances. 

Big Performances vs. CSU: Guards Devin Brierly and Jenna Cobb have posted big scoring numbers against Cleveland State this season. Brierly scored 16 points - her second-highest career point total - in BU's loss at CSU on Feb. 12. Cobb, a freshman and an Ohio native, scored a career-high 11 points in the win over the Vikings on Jan. 13.

Dawgs Come In Well-Rested: One element in Wednesday's rout over Detroit was the low total of minutes Butler's starters played, allowing them to have fresh legs for this weekend. No starter played more than 28 minutes, and three starters (Chloe Hamilton, Azjah Bass, Alyssa Pittman) played 21 minutes or less. Ten Bulldog players played at least 11 minutes against the Titans. 

Azjah Makes Her Point: After providing a much-needed spark off the bench for most of the season, Azjah Bass has climbed into the starting lineup at point guard. The senior point guard has had some of her best games since taking over the the starting spot. The 5-7 senior also has a 1.61:1 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last 10 contests. Bass has started 13 games this season. 

Sharpshooter: Bowen, one of the league's leading scorers, is also one of the most efficient scorers in the league. The Columbus, Ind., native stands third in the Horizon League in free throw percentage (.863), third in 3-point percentage (.393) and ninth in field goal percentage (.467). Historically, currently appears on Butler's all-time list for free throw percentage (3rd) and 3-point percentage (6th).

Chloe's Sweet 16: Chloe Hamilton's 11-for-11 performance against Green Bay in January was the bulk of an amazing stretch of shooting. Hamilton ended up making 16 straight field goal attempts over three games. She hit her last shot at UIC on Jan. 22 and 11 in a row vs. Green Bay on Jan. 27. She hit her first four shots against Milwaukee on Jan. 29 before missing.

A 4th Straight 20: Butler needs one more win to reach 20 victories for the fourth season in a row. That would be a first for BU as a Division I program, and second time in school history. The Bulldogs had four 20-win seasons in a row from 1978-82. This group went 20-10 in 2007-08 and followed that with a 20-12 season in 2008-09. Last year's mark of 23-10 was the team's most wins since the 1997-98 Bulldogs went 25-6 under June Olkowski. 

Players Of The Week: Brittany Bowen and Chloe Hamilton have each been tabbed Horizon League Player of the Week this season. Hamilton garnered the honor on Jan. 24 for her efforts at Loyola and UIC, when she averaged 21.5 points in a pair of BU wins. Bowen was selected as player of the week on Jan. 10 after averaging 19.0 points per game in road wins at Wright State and Detroit. 

400: Butler's win against Milwaukee on Jan. 29 was victory No. 400 for Beth Couture. The 9th-year Bulldog coach now owns 404 career wins, including 146 at Butler. Couture has the most women's basketball wins in Butler history. Only 48 other active NCAA coaches have 400 career victories.

Couture's Cause: When not patrolling the Butler sideline, Beth Couture has spent her time in the battle against breast cancer. Couture, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2009, rushed through treatments to make it on the sidelines for the start of the 2009-10 season. Couture has been cancer-free for more than a year and has participated in several awareness events. She walked 38 miles over a two-day span for St. Vincent's Weekend To End Breast Cancer during the fall. She is also the honorary chairwoman for 2011 St. Vincent Woman of Hope, a breast cancer awareness group. Each Woman of Hope participant pledges to raise or give $1,000 annually for the cancer cause of her choice.

100 Starts For Bowen: Butler's Feb. 19 game vs. Loyola was the 100th career start for Brittany Bowen at Butler. After 104 starts, the Bulldogs are now 67-37 in games in which Bowen takes the floor first. 

New Lineup: Beth Couture decided to juggle the starting lineup six games ago, and the change paid off immediately. With Alyssa Pittman making her third and fourth starts this season, Butler jumped all over UIC and Loyola early to win both games handily. Against UIC, the Bulldogs made 10 made 3-pointers in the first half, led by 20 at halftime and cruised to a blowout win. The Bulldogs then built a 22-4 lead vs. Loyola en route to a victory. Butler is 4-2 since Couture moved Pittman and Azjah Bass into the starting lineup.

...Add It To The Many Starting Lineups: Butler has used 13 different starting lineups in 31 games this season, including six groups one time. Two other starting lineups have been used twice. 

Injury Bug: Butler placing second in the Horizon League this season has been amazing when you consider how hard the Bulldogs were hit by injuries. BU is without two players who started the first half of the year in senior point guard Terra Burns (8.5 ppg, 4.8 apg) and freshman center Sarah Hamm (7.0 ppg). Burns was injured and knocked out for the year at Notre Dame, while Hamm suffered an ACL tear in her right knee against Valparaiso and is also out for the season. 

Pittman's Production: Alyssa Pittman, who was named sixth player of the year by the Horizon League,  has increased her scoring since moving into the starting lineup. The 5-9 senior has three games with 18 points or more in the last six contests. Pittman scored 23 in a big win over UIC and had a 25-point game at Milwaukee. 

More On 34: Chloe Hamilton's 34-point outburst at Youngstown State was one for the ages. Not only was it three points short of the school single-game record, but it was the highest output by a Butler player since 2001 when Sarah Bolten tied the school record with 37 points. Three players - UWM's Courtney Lindfors, WSU's LaShawna Thomas and YSU's Brandi Brown  - have scored 35 in a game this season.

Small Ball: The Bulldogs admittedly aren't the tallest team in the country, but a mix of pushing the ball in transition and switching defenses has made playing a small effective this season. Butler sometimes will end up with five guards on the floor, with nobody taller than 5-10 in the lineup. Of BU's nine players who play double-digit minutes, only three are taller than 5-9. Only one (6-1 Becca Bornhorst) is taller than 5-10.

2 For 30: Chloe Hamilton and Brittany Bowen have combined to do something that has happened just one other time in Butler women's basketball history. The senior duo has combined for three 30-point scoring performances this season. Bowen dropped 30 vs. Indiana State and 31 against Cleveland State. Hamilton had 34 points at Youngstown State. The only other time the Bulldogs have had three 30-point performances in the same season was 1990, when Julie VonDielingen had two and Nikki Anderson had one.

Simple...Just Make Shots: Sometimes the difference between winning and losing is simple. In its 19 victories, Butler is shooting .458 from the floor and scoring 71.9 points per game. In 12 losses, BU is shooting .362 and scoring 61.1 points per game. Butler is 17-0 when shooting a better percentage than its opponent and 2-12 when shooting worse. 

Bulldogs Nationally: In addition to Chloe Hamilton ranking seventh in the country in field goal percentage, Brittany Bowen can be found in the most recent NCAA stats. Bowen ranks 26th in the nation in free throw percentage (.863) and 89th in field goal percentage (.467). As a team, the Bulldogs are 40th in assists, 47th in free throw shooting, 49th in assist-to-turnover ratio, 81st in field goal shooting and 86th in scoring.

Up Next: A Butler win would place the Bulldogs in the league championship game for the second consecutive year. The game is set for Sunday, March 13 at Green Bay's Kress Center and will be televised on ESPNU.